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Pro bono attorneys winning costs from opposing party (either pro se or represented)

New York, NY |

If a pro bono attorney wins fees from an opposing party (who is usually unaware that the attorney is acting pro bono), isn't that the same as the pro bono attorney working on a no-win no-fee basis? Doesn't that undermine the fundamental premise of working pro bono?

Neither response seems to answer the question. An attorney can do pro-bono work for a client but get paid by the opposing party if the attorney wins. Sounds like the attorney has a vested interest in representing people Pro Bono in order to extract fees out of someone else. If they are truly pro bono, they would waive fees. But then who would do "Pro Bono" work, right?

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Attorney answers 3


No. Pro Bono means the lawyer isn't charging the client. If the court awards the lawyer costs or legal fees that doesn't change anything and the client certainly isn't entitled to that money.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


No. Just means lawyer didn't charge the client. The court is free to award atty fees. (FYI, I am not a NY atty).

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.


The attorney is permitted to seek fees from the opposing party without charging his or her own client.

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